Do people tend to live in neighborhoods with those like themselves?


But we may not realize that this tendency creates other dynamics. For instance, the economic segregation of Americans.

The Washington Post reports on a new study from researchers at the University of Toronto showing that the wealthy increasingly “isolate and wall themselves off from the less well-to-do’ in America’s cities.  Which cities are at the top of this self isolation-by-income category?

The least economically segregated cities?

Here is the full article by Emily Badger on the work of Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander.

Florida and Mellander note one particular result of this urban economic segregation –

While there have always been affluent neighborhoods, gated enclaves, and fabled bastions of wealth like Newport, East Hampton, Palm Beach, Beverly Hills, and Grosse Pointe, the people who cut the lawns, cooked and served the meals, and fixed the plumbing in their big houses used to live nearby—close enough to vote for the same councilors, judges, aldermen, and members of the board of education. That is less and less the case today.

There is a new distance being created between urban dwellers in our largest cities.  Not only physical but in the socio-political worlds.  It means less sharing.  It must also certainly mean a lessened sense of a common good.

What we are now seeing more and more in the Urban Millennium are urban dwellers “experiencing the very same city in very different ways.”

Tonight I’m reading the summary placed online this week by the Equal Justice Initiative of its report Lynching in America:  Confronting the Legacy of Racial Terror.Lynching in America

It reports on the ongoing project of tallying up “terror lynchings” (nearing 4,000) which took place in the twelve most active lynching states in America (1877-1950) and the effects this social phenomenon has had on America’s way with African Americans.

What I think of is the specific effect it has had on how African Americans relate to those of us who are not African American.

Sometimes it is expressed by ‘yes, sir’.

In many places and certainly in younger generations it’s a fading practice, perhaps one that has been gone for a few decades.  But in some places and especially with those of a certain age with close roots in the South it has persisted.  It can make a person uneasy, feel uncomfortable.  It doesn’t feel right.  It seems to challenge the notion that all men are created equal.  And at times it has defined relationships in a way that runs contrary to what I believe, what I want them to be.

But the Equal Justice Initiative Lynching In America report makes clear why it is a social practice not so easily discarded.

In 1940, Jesse Thornton was lynched in Luverne, Alabama, for referring to a white police
officer by his name without the title of ‘mister’.

Socio-cultural memory persists in keeping ‘yes, sir’ as part of the African American way to relate to white Americans.  This kind of memory lasts for a long time.


This memory with its many other nuances creates the backdrop for a saying Dr. William Bentley of the National Black Evangelical Association was fond of repeating.  I recall it going something like this –

If you’re white, you’re alright.  Yellow, you’re mellow.  Brown, stick around.

Black?  jump back!

Even when ‘yes, sir’ isn’t spoken, it isn’t necessarily absent.  There are silent ‘yes, sirs’ yet present in interactions, relationships.  Even friendships.

Care in navigating interracial relationships means being careful.  Ready to jump back.  Stay close to the door.  Mistrust, suspicion, guardedness, uncertainty often come with it.

This means that I have a responsibility, as a non-African American person. To acknowledge a long season of wrongs and power structures.  To memorialize it in ways such as Equal Justice Initiative plans to place markers where lynchings took place.  To disavow and disassemble the apparatus built on all of that.

Yes, sir.

It was the end of the meeting.  The Captain walked to the pulpit.  It was time to pray.

We had prayed, sang, spoken of our faith in a God who calls us to be peacemakers in a world where great forces are at work to exclude, separate, marginalize people.  Based on race, religion, class.  Now we felt good.  It was time to close in prayer.

But the Captain had something to tell us first.

He told us that God had spoken to him this afternoon.  The God who calls us to go.  To places we would not choose for ourselves.  The God of Abraham.  Moses.  Jeremiah.  Of Jesus, the only begotten Son, who came to earth from heaven.

The Captain told us of a time when he worked in Kirkwood MO.  Kirkwood is one of many communities ringing St Louis.  The Captain lived in St Louis at that time.  He is African-American.  He did not have a good experience in Kirkwood.  It was an experience of prejudice and bigotry.  In Kirkwood.

But now he lives in Kirkwood.  Irony.  The Captain was assigned by the Salvation Army to a living quarters in Kirkwood.  No, not the Army.  The hand of God.

The Captain told us that he now sees.  Racism, or open arms?  Smiles, or hard looks?  God has called him to be in Kirkwood.  Welcomed or not.  He sees what God’s doing.  God loves to send his people to go confound this beloved world.  Challenging it.  Inviting it.  Changing it.  And when we follow where he leads us we are changed, too, the Captain said.  He knew.  He had been changed.

He invited us to join him as he prayed.  We were quiet as we bowed our heads and he prayed.

After the meeting a woman came and asked me about the Captain.  She lives in Kirkwood, has for many years.  She’s white.  She wanted to speak with him.  She wanted to talk with him about what had happened years ago in her town.  It bothered her that Kirkwood meant what it did to him.  She wanted to find out what she could do.  And to let him know that she considered him her neighbor.  In Kirkwood.

I pointed to him over on the other side of the crowd.  I watched her walk toward the Captain.  Someone else came up to ask me something.

The meeting was over.  A band had played.  The Territorial Commander had preached.  Eloquent young men and women had spoken.

But I believe that the meeting of the Captain and the woman from Kirkwood made the angels sing in St Louis that afternoon.

ARC Chapel - Copy

I enjoy Christena Cleveland’s blog and I want you to see her most recent, 10 Reconciliation Books to Read, a great resource in our post-Michael Brown America.

I’ve enjoyed Julia Dinsmore’s My Name is Child of God … Not ‘Those People’.  The work of both Chris Heurtz and Mark Gornick have taught me much.

I recommend Christena’s list.

Orchard Street (1)

Lest we forget during this busy holiday season, and especially for Salvation Army folks –

“Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”  ~ Mother Teresa

This quote came via David Tooley at THQ; thanks, Dave.

Alex S. MacLean writes

Cities are and will continue to be the greenest places to live on a per-capita basis. This is made only more striking when I fly over the suburbs and see the inefficiency of single-family homes. They are dependent on cars, for one thing, and are connected by miles of paved roads to single-use zones of office and retail developments. These areas will not fare well, if we begin to mitigate climate change through measures like a carbon tax.

Detroit’s rebound is just a matter of time.

Check out MacLean’s Detroit By Air.  It’s revealing of Detroit’s current state.  A lot of empty abandoned areas.  But, you can see that there really are signs for hope.

A phone by John, near Dexter and Chicago.

A phone by John, near Dexter and Chicago.


Sometimes it’s Fritos.  Sometimes it’s Cheetos.  Doritos, always in third place.

This evening when I saw the photo of Kierra and John S. serving at a Salvation Army canteen counter, my eyes voted Cheetos.  Tonight I feel more cheesy than freezy.

Here’s the photo and a few words from the Urban Mission Center about a Ferguson experience last August for Temple House folks.  BTW, I do miss John S. who’s back in Colorado before his next urban adventure.  Dr. Who.UMC logo

If you haven’t seen yet here’s a set of photos from last Sunday’s graffiti at the KFC in Ferguson.

Last Sunday a small group of young adults was quietly at work in Ferguson MO.

December 1 2014 004

Several of our folks from Temple Houses in Benton Park West spent most of Sunday performing authorized graffiti at the boarded up Kentucky Fried Chicken.

Nov 2014 in Ferguson (5)

I like this creative framing of the drive-up window.  Is that Banksy inspired?

Nov 2014 in Ferguson (3)

Sir Gabriel, Elysia, Charlene and Cheryl.  They joined others in this creative window of opportunity.  To help turn anxiety into hope.

December 1 2014 003

December 1 2014 001

Temple Houses is a missional community of young adults living in St Louis’ Benton Park West neighborhood.  They serve together as part of The Salvation Army’s Urban Mission Center.  Since August they have been serving in various ways in Ferguson.  Next month they will be learning at Urban Youth and The Leaders Who Love Them.  You are welcome to join them for this workshop at the Temple Corps, 2740 Arsenal Street, St Louis MO.

BTW, Gail and I are headed for a home on Arsenal Street.  We patiently sit with our packing boxes.  Hope sometime this spring to be in Temple Houses.  We are a little bit older than the TH community but they are making an exception for us.

The Urban Millennium is characterized by dramatic changes in density,
diversity and wealth disparity.  And one indication that the UM has arrived
in these United States is seen in recent statistics from the National
Center for Education Statistics.

White students of non-Hispanic descent have for over a century accounted for the majority in public elementary schools.  This has changed.  Now non-white students comprise the majority.

Story from the Associated Press.

Detroit is a metaphor for America, for America’s challenges and America’s opportunities. It is a hothouse for new innovation, for ingenuity and risk taking. That doesn’t happen in a lot of American cities. We need to be in Detroit because of that. – Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation

Read more of the Free Press’ article How Detroit Was Reborn.



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